9 Октября 2017 года

Glasnost defence foundation digest No. 817

October 2, 2017


Sick inmates left without medical assistance in labour camp in Kurgan Region

By Georgy Borodyansky, GDF correspondent in Siberian Federal District

A labour camp manager has kept a convicted blogger in the isolation ward as a “persistent law violator” for more than two months to secure his transfer to a tight-security colony.

Blogger Alexei Kungurov, who is serving his term in Labour Colony No.5 in Kurgan, has again been locked up into the isolation ward for 15 days, his wife Asiya Baishikhina told the GDF. “The management doesn't even take the trouble of thinking up a new pretext for the penalty measure; each time they write one and the same thing: `Refusal to participate in improving the prison grounds',” she said. “Yet no one has ever invited him to, and it's hard to imagine what or how anything can be improved there: the entire prison area is only sand and rock, while they give you a broom of three small twigs for sweeping the ground - they like this kind of unvaried `humour', you know…” It's for the fifth time Kungurov is placed in the isolation ward, having already spent there more than two months in all, according to his wife.

“Actually, he spends more time there than in the barracks: after they release him for a couple of days, they come back for him again. I think they have orders to get his health undermined in this kind of a concrete vault with low temperature, high humidity and no heating,” Baishikhina went on to say. “And you can't wear your own clothes there; not even a healthy man is likely to endure two weeks in prison overalls as torture by cold. Fortunately, Alexei is physically fit, but he doesn't look too well already, and if he falls ill, there'll be no one to treat him”.

There are no medics with that correctional facility, Baishikhina said. New inmates do not undergo medical examinations at all. “Alexei arrived on 9 June, and he had his blood and lungs tested only on 12 September - after three months of his staying there without a medical card,” his wife said. “As they were placing him into the isolation ward, some man popped up, who called himself a paramedic and, without glancing at my husband, wrote: `Healthy, no complaints'”.

Baishikhina also told the story of another inmate, Alexander, a man with three broken ribs. “He suffers from severe pain, he coughs blood, but no one reacts to his complaints,” she said. “He called an ambulance from an illegally-obtained cell phone; they arrived, diagnosed two rib fractures and the absence of a third rib, and insisted on taking the patient to hospital, but the management said no, promising to drive him to the doctor's later. They did take him for untrasonic scanning and the diagnosis was confirmed; yet the colony bosses are still against his hospitalizing. This actually spells death: as a surgeon has explained to me, a rib fragment evidently injures inner organs, including the lung, causing the blood cough. If the splinter continues wandering inside, this may end lethally”.

The Fifth Colony management has turned to a court of law asking to have Alexei Kungurov transferred as a “persistent violator [of internal rules]” to a tighter-regime colony. “That was the original purpose of their locking him up into the isolation ward, but we will challenge each such measure even if we can't hope to achieve much,” the blogger's wife told the GDF. The court sitting is scheduled for 5 October.

Let us remind the reader that the Volga Military Court on 20 December 2016 sentenced Kungurov under Criminal Coder Article 205.2 to two years in labour camp for “public justification of terrorism”. The proceedings against him had been started after his LiveJournal post “Who Are Putin's Falcons Bombing in Real Terms?” which criticized Russia's Aerospace Forces for their operations in Syria.

The Memorial Human Rights Centre has proclaimed the Tyumen-based blogger a political prisoner.

Yermak TV/Radio Company in Yekaterinburg indebted to its personnel

By Vladimir Golubev, GDF correspondent in Urals Federal District

The Yermak TV/Radio Company, which was thought to be close to the Office of the Presidential Envoy to the Urals, is finding itself in a situation that can be called both sad and ludicrous: it stopped broadcasting in February but still owes 1.2 million roubles to its 20 staffers, with former head-managers Tatyana Nikolayeva and Andrei Murinovich rebuffing any accusations brought against them.

When the underpaid journalists went to law seeking help, it turned out that Yermak had neither cash nor property that could be sold; all it had were two cars that both were banned for sale.

Regional prosecutor's office spokeswoman Marina Kanatova has told the Znak.com news agency that the Leninsky district prosecutors asked a court of law to withhold Yermak's arrears, but of the 20 judicial orders they issued, only one has entered into full legal force to date: neither law enforcement nor the company founders have been able to find out who the channel's president is at the moment, bearing the responsibility for the entity's actions. According to the State Register of Legal Entities, the company head now is Murinovich, who took over as president in November 2016, after his predecessor Nikolayeva had retired on pension.

“I haven't worked as director since 10 March,” Murinovich objected. “I tendered my resignation on 10 February, worked for one more month in line with the law, and quit. To have this change reflected in the State Register, the founders need to come together and accept my resignation, but they have not met for all these months. So let them straighten things up themselves”. Murinovich the “non-president” says he resigned from the channel because he hadn't been paid, either. Curiously, retired Yermak ex-president Nikolayeva continues working as executive secretary with the Chief Editors' Council of the Urals Federal District.

So the journalists remain the ones to endure the hardships of a crisis-stricken company co-founded, according to its articles of association, by such respectable organisations as the State TV/Radio Company VGTRK, the Yamal-Region television company, the Magnitogorsk Steel Works, and the radio and television companies Channel Four and Yugra.

Former Yermak newsroom editor Anna Kochevryagina hopes the mystery of the company's indebtedness to its staffers can only be solved by investigators: “We count on the Investigative Committee first and foremost”. Prosecutorial materials have been sent to the Committee's Fourth Investigations Department for legal assessment of the Yermak management performance. The issue of company debts to its personnel also has been taken under special control by the Sverdlovsk Region governor's administration.

The GDF will follow up on the story.

Media holding in Perm fails to return its seized property handed over to underpaid journalist

By Mikhail Lobanov, GDF correspondent in Volga Federal District

The regional court in Perm on 25 September turned down the request of OOO ActivMedia, a company controlled by State Duma MP and ruling United Russia Party representative Dmitry Skrivanov, to condemn the bailiffs' actions in respect of the media holding as unlawful. Three months ago, in order to secure the execution of an amicable settlement on Activ's returning to journalist Alexander Pastukhov the wages underpaid to him, the bailiffs seized all of the holding's property they could identify.

As we reported in digest 807, OOO ActivMedia actually deceived Pastukhov, ex-head of its social media, by not paying off its wage debt voluntarily, as agreed at the Sverdlovsky district court of Perm on 10 April. That caused the journalist to request the writ of execution and submit it to the bailiffs. On 16 May, the Sverdlovsky District Bailiffs' Service started the executory process aimed at having ActivMedia pay Pastukhov the unpaid money in the amount of 195,200 roubles. At the Green Plaza business centre on 8 June, bailiff Rangel Chupriyanovsky, in the presence of two eyewitnesses and Pastukhov himself, made an inventory of the available ActivMedia property subject to seizure. The plaintiff received at the time from the holding's offices for responsible keeping 24 Philips monitors, 17 Panasonic desk phones, two Tonk miniPCs, and an Epson colour printer, worth an estimated total of 103,700 roubles.

On 22 June the Sverdlovsky district court, with which the media holding filed its complaint, proclaimed the bailiff's actions perfectly lawful, and an appellate panel later found no legal ground for having Pastukhov return the money he had earned by selling the arrested property.

“They seem to live in some different kind of reality,” Alexander Pastukhov wrote in his e-mail message to the GDF, referring to OOO ActivMedia. “All their property that has been seized as part of my legal case was transferred to me long ago. I sold the last monitor a couple of weeks back; the rest still remains unsold. Also, I've found a full-time job in Samara; now I work with social networks on the 63.ru web portal”.


Media-related conflicts registered by GDF Monitoring Service on RF territory in September 2017

Deaths of journalists - 1 (Andrei Ruskov, journalist, BestVideo Broadcasting Studios, Birobijan)

Attacks on journalists and bloggers - 2 (Millet television channel film crew, Simferopol; REN TV film crew, Moscow)

Attacks on media offices and TV stations - 1 (Lenta.ru office, Moscow)

Instances of censorship - 11 (newspaper Bibirevo-Nash Dom, newspaper Biryulyovo-Vostochnoye, newspaper Zvyozdnyi Bulvar, newspaper Orekhovo-Borisovo Yuzhnoye, all based in Moscow; TV channel Sankt-Peterburg, St. Petersburg; Channel One, Moscow; Sib.fm news website, Novositirsk, 4 times; RIA Novosti website, Moscow)

Criminal charges against journalists, media and bloggers - 1 (Alexei Pskovitin, blogger, Kemerovo)

Illegal sacking of editor/journalist - 1 (Nadezhda Afanasyeva, journalist, Profil magazine's website, Moscow)

Detention by police (FSB, etc.) - 2 (Taras Ibragimov, correspondent, Article20.org, Simferopol; Alexander Pavlov, correspondent, newspaper Otkrytaya Rossiya, Moscow)

Threats against journalists, bloggers and media - 4 (Vladimir Spiryagin, freelancer, Saratov; Sergei Smetankin, chief editor, SMItanka news website, Moscow Region; Andrei Vypolzov, editor, Newsbalt website, Kaliningrad; REN TV film crew, Moscow)

Denial of access to information (including bans on audio/video recording and photography; denials of accreditation; restrictions on visits to or presence at events held in government agencies, at industrial enterprises, in state institutions, etc.) - 26

Closure of media - 1 (newspaper TON-M, Krasnoyarsk Region)

Withdrawal/purchase, or confiscation of print run - 1 (newspaper of Yabloko party, Yaroslavl)

Interference with Internet publications - 2 (Kompromat.ru web portal, Moscow; website Worldview of Russian Civilization, Bryansk)

Confiscation of/damage to photo, video and audio apparatus and computers - 2 (camcorder of Millet channel's film crew, Simferopol; camcorder of REN TV film crew, Moscow)

Other forms of pressure/infringement of journalists' rights - 30


Reporters barred from, or driven out of, courts in Vladivostok

By Anna Seleznyova, GDF correspondent in Far Eastern Federal District

Journalists in Vladivostok are not too often banned from attending court sittings. It would seem gone are the times when reporters faced all sorts of barriers at every step.

Yet incidents still happen now and then. On 27 July, FSB officials arrested Maritime Region Deputy Governor Yevgeny Vishnyakov at the Vladivostok airport, starting legal proceedings against him under Criminal Code Article 286 (“Abuse of official powers”). The man was promptly taken to the Frunzensky district court, but the press was left outside and never let through, Vostok-Media news agency correspondent Yevgeny Cheryomukhin reported.

On 30 September, an attempt was made to oust journalists from the Maritime regional court where the case was being heard against the former chief of regional police, Ilya Shamratov, suspected of abuse of office while distributing bonuses. During the hearings, Shamratov said the money collected from his subordinates had been used for “charity purposes and on creating an organization of veterans”; the investigators, for their part, insisted that in November-December 2016, Shamratov saw to it his reports would receive increased yearly bonuses (which he then took away from them to spend at his own discretion). Fearing likely career complications, his inferiors had collectively handed over nearly 4 million roubles to him. It follows that it was not accidental that Shamratov considered the presence of reporters in the courtroom as “an action directed against” him in person. His defence lawyer, at the outset of the sitting, demanded that the press be removed from the courtroom lest “they should spread details about her client's and his family's private life”.

This time, however, the court rejected the defence's request, finding no legal grounds for showing the reporters the door.

This digest was prepared by the Glasnost Defence Foundation in Moscow. The digest has been issued once a week, on Mondays, since August 11, 2000.

We acknowledge the assistance of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.

Currently it is distributed by e-mail to 1,600 subscribers in and outside Russia.

Editorial board

  • Editor-in-chief, Alexei Simonov
  • Boris Timoshenko, Head of Monitring Service;
  • Svetlana Zemskova, GDF Lawyer;
  • Vsevolod Shelkhovskoy, translator.

We welcome the promotion of our news items and articles but if you make use of any information from this digest or other GDF materials please acknowledge the source.


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